Thursday, March 17, 2022

Three birds that nest in the off-season

great horned owl

By Suzanne Treyger

Meet several species that prefer to breed outside of spring and early summer.

Generally speaking, most birds nest when the temperatures are warmer and food resources, like insects and fruits, are abundant.

Late spring and early summer are the busiest breeding seasons for birds, but there are several forest species that prefer to nest outside of that peak time. Let’s take a look at three odd-season nesters and their preferred forest habitat.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Adirondack Mountain Club publishes new guidebook to honor centennial year 

ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club) has released a new addition to its authoritative collection of hiking guidebooks entitled Peaks and Ponds, Adirondack Day Hikes.

Authored by Cat Hadlow and Bobby Clark—two ADK staff members—this brand-new collection of thirty-seven classic and lesser-known trips honors ADK’s 100-year legacy of teaching people how to explore and protect New York’s public lands and waters. It interweaves snippets of ADK history as it leads hikers to beautiful and remote spots throughout the park—places such as Moss Lake, Catamount Mountain, Tirrell Pond, and Kipp Mountain.

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Kid next to water
Monday, March 14, 2022

Adorable Acorn Adorners

While my musings about nature generally focus on southeastern Canada and the northeastern United States, there are times when a subject is far too juicy to ignore even if it’s out of this world, like Japanese satellites made from trees. Back home on our little planet, we have a blind, rainbow-hued marine worm which slices fish in half for the joy of it. This “Bobbitt” worm grows to ten feet long and can paralyze a human with its venom.

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Saturday, March 12, 2022

Ferd’s Bog hike results in peaceful serenade from White-winged Crossbills

It’s Sunday evening (March 6) and we just came home from the movies in Old Forge in a howling wind with the temperature at 55 degrees which breaks the record of 43 degrees set in 2004. The power was off a couple times during the movie but came back on, so we didn’t lose much of the plot. As this weather (with changing temperatures) came across the country a few tornadoes touched down across Iowa and one near Des Moines killed 7 people including two children.

This string of unsettled weather is now going through the southern part of New York with quite a bit of red showing on the weather map. This warming trend and the rain overnight last night pretty well whipped many of the snowmobile trails and most of the paved roads they had been using which also bared up. There were some washouts in the Moose River area that the snows this week filled in nicely by the groomer. These were those frozen culverts that I mentioned last week which will have to be repaired before opening in May.

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Saturday, March 12, 2022

Northern Forest Canoe Trail hosting virtual film fest screenings

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) is hosting virtual screenings of the World Tour Paddling Film Festival. The annual festival showcases the very best paddling films of the year ­­and is now screening in living rooms everywhere. A portion of proceeds from ticket sales benefits NFCT stewardship and programming.

“We’re excited to once again offer the year’s best selection of paddling films to the NFCT community,” said Karrie Thomas, NFCT’s executive director. “Whether you’re in it for the exploration of secluded quiet waters, or the adrenaline rush of big wave whitewater, the film fest has something for everyone.”

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Thursday, March 10, 2022

Five Loons Rescued on Lake Champlain

By Eric Teed

Our crew has a lunch policy. “Not a rule mind you, just a policy” put forward years ago by John Rosenthal. Lunch may not be taken before noon, seating should be comfortable, in the sun, and out of the wind. Given we had been skating for hours on incredible black ice, we were euphoric and ravenous. The speck of dirt called Diamond Island in Lake Champlain’s Narrows would have to do. Then, I saw the loons. I almost missed lunch, and the next day would be one I will always remember.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Winter Weather Worms

worms

During the summer, here in the Adirondacks the little creatures we call earthworms are abundant and apparent.  For many, earthworms are just a simple creature that are foraged for to utilize as bait when fishing, but they serve many more purposes than this. Earthworms perform several beneficial functions such as: Stimulating microbial activity.

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Saturday, March 5, 2022

Inlet’s Frozen Fire and Lights: Outhouse races, a crowd-pleasing addition

You would have to be like an Ostrich that hides its head in the sand not to have heard or seen what is happening to the democratic country of Ukraine. The invasion of the Russian army was done under the orders of their leader, President Putin, to take over this country (which did nothing to provoke this attack.) So far, Ukraine has held their ground and kept the Russians from taking over any major cities or toppling their government. Over three million residents have fled the country to the west into Poland, Hungary, and other neighbors to the west with nothing but the clothes on their backs. If you just listen to Fox News and former President Trump (both who have given praise to what President Putin has done), you need to watch a different channel. My prayers go out to the army and the people of Ukraine who are defending their country and their homes.

On a brighter note, one of my amaryllis has its last bloom. This bloom is from one of the three bulbs that I planted in the garden for the summer. I dug up these bulbs when I put the garden to bed, cut off all the green leaves and put them in a cool place in the cellar for over a month. I repotted them just before Christmas and two of the three produced tall shoots with four blooms on each. You could try the same thing if you have an amaryllis that now just has big green leaves.

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Friday, March 4, 2022

Sweet News – Maple Weekend is Back 

I have good news for readers who’ve never visited a working sugarhouse or seen maple syrup being made, but are curious about the process and would like to know more. Maple Weekend is coming. During the weekends of March 19 and 20 and March 26 and 27, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., member producers of the Northeastern New York Chapter of the New York State Maple Producers Association (NYSMPA) are joining maple tree-farming families across New York State in opening their sugarhouses to the public.

It’s a great opportunity for your family to visit one or more of the region’s family-run maple sugaring operations to see first-hand, from tree to table, how delicious, local maple syrup and other maple confections are made and to sample and take home some of the best tasting, pure, natural maple products in the world. Weather permitting, you’ll be able to watch the sap to syrup process unfold right before your eyes.

Maple Weekend is agri-tourism at its finest; an annual event organized by NYSMPA, funded by both NYSMPA members and the NY State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and supported and championed by Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Cornell Maple Program. The Maple Weekend initiative began in the mid-1990s, when NYSMPA producer-members across the state, in the first coordinated effort of this type, opened their doors for an event they called Maple Sunday. The objective for this year’s Maple Weekend event is the same as it was then; to provide an opportunity for interested persons to see for themselves, personally, how maple trees are tapped and how sap is collected and boiled into pure, delicious maple syrup.

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Saturday, February 26, 2022

Counting birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count leads to a rescue on South Shore Road

Some people could be making maple syrup this week with the above normal temperatures we are going to get and some more rain. The rain we got last week is still running off in places even with the below zero temperatures we’ve had since then. Several folks to the east of Whiteface Mountain in Jay and Au Sable Forks on the West Branch of the Ausable River had a couple ice jams that flooded several residences and washed away some vehicles when they broke loose. Some of those vehicles could be in Ausable Chasm or even out in Lake Champlain as they rolled down the river in the ice flow.

Recently, I was reading about the log river drives and thought if they had logs in the South Branch of the Moose River Stillwater by Camp Nine this year, those logs would be gone and headed for Lyons Falls. They had a couple scares when they had the river full of logs a couple of years ago, but the ice held until the spring break up before going down river. I looked out last Friday morning and water was four inches deep going across my driveway, so I knew something was wrong with the culverts. Actually, the culverts were fine, but the snowpack was damming up the water before it got to them.

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Thursday, February 24, 2022

The Hidden Value of Brush Piles

brush pile and wildlife

A Wildlife Investment

I honed my trail maintenance skills as a young man on a DEC Trail crew team in the Adirondack high peaks.  There I learned a wide variety of valuable skills and techniques, everything from axemanship, to two-man blowdown clearing bowsaw skills, crafting freshly felled cedar trees into water bars, ladders and stringer bridges. I even studied the mystic art of building bases for trailside privies.

One thing that I never gave much thought to back then, as we braved blackfly blitzkriegs, dragging evergreen mountains of hand cut logs, branches and brush clear of mile after mile of winding high peaks trails, was the value resident non-hiking boot clad denizens found in the tangled mass branches we discarded as refuse.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

New Research Suggests White-Tailed Deer May Be Highly Susceptible to COVID-19 

Two recent studies; one published in December in Nature (www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04353-x) and the other posted to the bioRxiv preprint server earlier this month (www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.02.04.479189v1), present evidence that white-tailed deer are highly susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2, with multiple reports of widespread spillover of the virus from humans to deer in the wild.

The bioRxiv-published report details a study conducted by an interdisciplinary team of researchers led by Penn State University (PSU) scientists. The team examined 131 free-ranging white-tailed deer, all living on Staten Island, the most suburban of the 5 New York City boroughs. Nineteen tested positive for COVID antibodies, indicating that the deer had prior exposure to the virus and, according to the researchers, implying that they are vulnerable to repeated re-infections with new variants.

The report has not yet been certified by peer review, but has been published as a pre-print because of the significance of the findings, according to Suresh Kuchipudi, an American College of Veterinary Microbiologists (ACVM) board-certified specialist in virology and immunology at the Department of Veterinary and Biological Sciences at PSU. He serves as associate director of PSU’s Animal Diagnostic Laboratory where, as head of microbiology, he oversees the University’s bacteriology, virology, serology, and molecular diagnostic units. Kuchipudi has expressed concern that spillover of omicron from humans to deer could result in new and possibly vaccine-resistant mutations of the virus evolving undetected in non-human hosts and noted that one of the infected deer in the study had antibodies from a previous COVID-19 infection; indicating that deer, like humans, can experience breakthrough cases.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Look for Wildlife Tracks this Winter

wildlife tracksNow is a great time to search for winter tracks (PDF) or other animal signs visible in the snow. It can be fun to be a detective and figure out what animals have been walking through your yard or across a trail. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Snow conditions can make a difference in a track’s appearance—wet snow captures a print better than powdery snow.
  • Members in the dog family (coyote, fox, or dogs) will usually leave claw prints above the toes, while the cat family (bobcat, housecat) will not. You should see four toes on both front and back feet for both families.
  • Rodents, such as squirrels, chipmunks, mice, muskrats, and voles, usually have four toes on the front feet and five on the back. Claws may or may not be seen.
  • Bring a notebook, camera, or field guide with you.
  • Sometimes an animal’s droppings, or scat, can help you identify it—a rabbit’s looks like small balls of sawdust.

Find out more in the Become a Winter Wildlife Detective (PDF) issue of Conservationist for Kids.

Check out the video on winter wildlife tracks and scat identification on DEC’s Facebook page.

Photo of ruffed grouse tracks by Sandy Van Vranken/DEC


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, Adirondack Land Trust, Eagle Island, Inc. welcome new hires

Three Adirondack-area nonprofit organizations including The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, Adirondack Land Trust, and Eagle Island, Inc. welcomed new staff members during the month of February.

The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation expands their team:

 

The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation is pleased to welcome two new members to its staff – Susan Harry as its Philanthropy Director, and Jay Locke as its Finance and Operations Director. Since becoming a nonprofit organization in 2017, the Adirondack Loon Center has experienced steady growth and expanded its loon conservation and educational programs across the Park.

“We are very excited to have Susan and Jay join our team, as they greatly increase our capacity to do more for Adirondack loons,” said Dr. Nina Schoch, Executive Director of the Center. “They bring a wide depth of experience and knowledge that will significantly enhance our loon research and conservation projects in the Adirondacks.”

Susan has worked professionally and as a volunteer for many wildlife conservation organizations. She is passionate about protecting the environment for future generations to enjoy. Susan raised awareness and support for the Kenyan Lewa Wildlife Conservancy’s conservation efforts to protect the African Black Rhino, which led to Susan receiving the 2010 Anna Merz Honorary Award.

Her wide experience in fundraising and grant management will greatly expand the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation’s capacity for sustaining its Adirondack loon conservation and research programs. When Susan is not with loons on the water, she enjoys exploring the Adirondacks by hiking with her golden retrievers, cross-country skiing, and snow-shoeing.

Jay brings a broad background in data management, grant administration, and fundraising to the Loon Center. He previously worked with the Open Society Foundations in NYC, where he provided funding and technical advice on impact evaluation and data management to not-for-profit organizations across the world. Prior to OSF, he supported data analysis projects for the United Nations Development Program in Eswatini, served in the Peace Corps in Kenya as a community economic development advisor, and worked in internal audit for a Fortune 500 company in Atlanta. Jay is a licensed CPA and wildlife rehabilitator, and enjoys birdwatching, identifying lichens, and playing guitar.

Jay and Susan are excited to apply their professional expertise and passion for wildlife conservation in their new roles at the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation. The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation is a 501(c)3 non-profit that conducts scientific research and engaging educational programming to promote and inspire passion for the conservation of Common Loons in and beyond New York’s Adirondack Park. To learn more about the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation visit www.adkloon.org or www.facebook.com/adkloon, or contact the Center at [email protected] or (518) 354-8636. 

 

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Kid next to water
Saturday, February 19, 2022

Observing resilient winter breeding crossbills raise their young

It was minus sixteen this morning (Monday, February 14). I was feeding the birds just after sunrise and the trees were popping and snapping as the water that collected in their cracks was expanding very loudly. Last night the deer didn’t come through to clean up the fallen seeds from the feeders, so the blue jays took advantage of the opportunity. They were working on those and carrying them off to a safe place for hiding. Yesterday I banded my 50th blue jay since the first of December. They keep coming in from some place and the others move south. The highest count I can get at any one time at the feeders is sixteen, but I know there are many more than that if they all came together.

I mentioned before how the jays fill their beaks with seeds and fly off with them to store somewhere, just in case I don’t feed them anymore. Their beaks are full of sunflower seeds or corn when I catch them in the potter traps. They are so full, in fact, that you can see it while I have them in hand and they can’t chirp (or bite) while their beaks are full. Most times, I can see the seeds and they let me band them, and measure a wing. They also usually let me check for age by looking for bars on the outside feathers of the wing before they go out the window to freedom. And they are still holding those seeds when they are released by the way. Blue jays are one of the most placid birds in hand while banding them. Very often they just lay still and watch what you are doing with their big black eyes. However, their feet are active and grab on to anything that touches them, like your fingers, a pencil, or the banding pliers…and they have a fairly good grip.

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Kid next to water

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